About us

What do we mean by public art?

Public art at the University of Bristol is art that everyone can enjoy or take part in. We recognise the value of new and many forms of public art, be it a permanent sculpture, a temporary installation or a fleeting performance. What unites all of our commissions is that they have been developed in a spirit of collaboration; between artists, staff and students at the University and the city.

Much of our public art moving forward will have a strong focus on city-wide engagement, discussion and dialogue. We endeavour to seek new ways of speaking with a new generation of artists and audiences.

Public art can impact on all our lives, from the global to the personal; from raising awareness of the global challenges that we all face to understanding more about our own place in the world. We believe public art is at its best when it supports a sense of community and stimulates debate.

Earth sculpture hanging in University of Bristol's Great Hall

Our Public art strategies, written by art advisors the Contemporary Art Society  outline the guiding principles for The University’s public art programme.

On this website, the University’s public art projects and artworks are categorised as:

Permanent Artworks Contemporary artworks that are sited around the campus. These have either been commissioned by the University via the Heritage and Public Art Committee or acquired due to a specific connection to the work of the University. These artworks are all publicly accessible and are marked on this Art Map.

Temporary Projects A wide variety of collaborative projects involving artists working within and beyond the University community, including on artist residencies, temporary exhibitions and events.

The forms of public art we commission are as varied as the range of artists’ practices today. We champion experimental approaches to art making, and when commissioning new public art consideration is given to a broad range of work. The artworks featured below are examples of the kinds of current practices that inspire our programme – they are not University of Bristol commissions.

Earth model in Courtyard

Feature sculpture

Mark Wallinger, TheWorldTurnedUpsideDown. Photo: Damian Griffiths. Courtesy Contemporary Art Society

(de)Bordering, Paul Hurley & Charli Clark, 2021

Pavilions and event spaces

(de)Bordering, Paul Hurley and Charli Clark. Photo: Nariman Massoumi

Crumbling building sculpture on corner of office block

Architectural interventions

Richard Wilson, Square the Block. Photo: Matthew Blarney. Courtesy Contemporary Art Society

Primary school pupils at thFestival of Nature schools day

Participatory programmes

Seeds of Change: Growing a Living History of Bristol. Photo: Kamina Walton

Wall constructed from squares of mirror

Land interventions

Winter and Hoerbelt, Pixel Wall Photo: Jo Underhill Courtesy Contemporary Art Society

Giant Squid mural on side of concrete building wall

Murals and street art

Roa, Giant Squid. Photo: Duncan C, Creative Commons BY-NC 4.

Images of nature in coloured glass panels within concrete building

Animated frontage

Karine Laval, Heterotopia. Photo: Andy Keate, Courtesy Contemporary Art Society

Projection on building reading: TWO BIRDS FLY OVERHEAD, WHY DON'T YOU SWOOP UPWARDS?

Lighting and projection

Jenny Holzer, For London. Photo: Phil Gyford, Creative Commons BY-ND-ND 4.

Text: MUSEUM rendered in coloured tiles

Facade treatments

Photo: Creative Commons CC0

People descending plastic water slide running down Park Street, Bristol

Performance and activation

Luke Jerram, Bristol Park and Slide Project. Photo: Paul Townsend

Illyria Theatre company, Goldney Hall

Outdoor events

Illyria Theatre company, Goldney Hall

Carlos Cruz-Diez

Public realm interventions

Chroma, Carlos Cruz- Diez, 2017, SCAD Museum of art. Image CC BY-NC 2.0


Boot relief sculpture on side of brick building

Distributed trails

Caroline McCarthy, Flying Boots and Eyes on Fire. Photo: Amit Lennon, Courtesy Contemporary Art Society

Small two-storey mesh building by side of lake

Wild spaces

Winter and Hoerbelt, Fata Morgana Teahouse. Photo: Jo Underhill